Deux millénaires d{'}occupations mésolithiques au bord de l{'}Escaut à Kerkhove (Belgique) : première approche palethnographique

Deux millénaires d{'}occupations mésolithiques au bord de l{'}Escaut à Kerkhove (Belgique) : première approche palethnographique

TitelDeux millénaires d{'}occupations mésolithiques au bord de l{'}Escaut à Kerkhove (Belgique) : première approche palethnographique
MedientypJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AutorenVandendriessche, H, Guéret, C, Aluwé, K, Messiaen, L, Cruz, F, Storme, A, Allemeersch, L, Van Neer, W, Sergant, J, Crombé, P
JournalBulletin de la Société préhistorique française
Volume116
Pagination283-316
Zusammenfassung

Résumé : La fouille récente du gisement alluvial de Kerkhove (Belgique), situé dans la vallée de l{'}Escaut, à une vingtaine de kilomètres de la frontière française, a permis de mettre au jour 17 locus mésolithiques. D{'}après les données typochronologiques et les datations absolues, ces locus datent non seulement du Mésolithique ancien, mais aussi du Mésolithique moyen et récent. La première phase d{'}occupation de la levée alluviale, datée du 11e et 10e millénaire avant le présent (cal BP), a clairement été la plus intensive. Elle correspond à un Mésolithique ancien caractérisé par des assemblages du « groupe de Chinru », dominés par les triangles et les pointes à base retouchée. La deuxième phase d{'}occupation, celle du Mésolithique moyen, compte trois locus et est caractérisée par de nombreuses lamelles étroites à bord abattu, et des pointes à retouche couvrante d{'}une part, et par une exploitation de matières premières siliceuses différentes d{'}autre part. La dernière phase d{'}occupation date du Mésolithique récent. Elle est représentée par un seul locus qui a livré de nombreux artefacts en grès-quartzite de Wommersom, quelques trapèzes et des lamelles plus régulières. Le principal intérêt du site de Kerkhove est la possibilité d{'}étudier tous les aspects de l{'}industrie lithique, mais également l{'}exploitation des matières premières siliceuses et des autres ressources naturelles dans une large perspective diachronique. En effet, hors vestiges lithiques, des quantités considérables de coquilles de noisettes carbonisées et de restes fauniques ont été récupérées. En plus de la présence d{'}ossements brûlés, des restes fauniques non brûlés sont également conservés, situation inédite pour le Mésolithique ancien, moyen et récent du nord de la Belgique. Ainsi, les ossements de sanglier et de chevreuil dominent les assemblages du Mésolithique ancien et sont associés à des restes d{'}animaux à fourrures, tandis que les contextes du Mésolithique moyen livrent des indices fréquents de consommation de poissons sur le site. Mots-clés : Mésolithique ancien, Mésolithique moyen, RMS, Mésolithique récent, faune, poisson, tracéologie lithique, analyse spatiale. Abstract: 17 Mesolithic artefact loci were discovered on an alluvial levee during recent excavations at the wetland site of Kerkhove, located in the Scheldt floodplain at about 20 km from the French border. On typochronological grounds, these artefact loci are mainly dated to the Early Mesolithic, already well known from previous large-scale excavations in the lower Scheldt basin, but also to the lesser known Middle and Late Mesolithic periods. The first occupation phase proved to be the most intense and lasted from the middle of the 11th to the middle of the 10th millennium cal BP, based on a series of 19 14C-dates on single entity charred hazelnut shells. At least 9 different artefact loci belonging to this period were documented, covering either small (< 40 m2) or rather large areas (> 100 m2). The microlith compositions of most of these clusters were dominated by triangles and points with retouched base, corresponding to the regional assemblage type of the « Chinru group ». The second occupation phase, the Middle Mesolithic, was harder to define spatially, due to its location on the western edge of the excavation area and to its partial admixture with Early Mesolithic artefacts at specific locations. Nevertheless, three distinct artefact loci were discovered, characterised by the presence of numerous small backed bladelets combined with occasional points with invasive retouch on the one hand and by a different exploitation of lithic raw material resources on the other hand. Besides these more traditional clusters, several discrete concentrations of armatures were located in the low-density areas to the west of the most important Middle Mesolithic occupation zone. Unfortunately, this Middle Mesolithic occupational phase could not be directly dated by ecofacts associated with the artefact loci. However, two dates on unburnt faunal remains recovered from the colluvial deposits on the slope of the levee, indicate that this Middle Mesolithic occupation could date to as early as the second part of the 10th millennium cal BP, at the very beginning of the Middle Mesolithic period. Finally, the last occupation of the site dates to the Late Mesolithic and is only represented by one artefact locus, that contained regular Wommersom quartzite and flint bladelets associated with a few trapezes. Unfortunately, no absolute dates were obtained for this cluster to corroborate and specify its chronological position. This being said, the Kerkhove site offers the advantage, compared to previously excavated sites, that it allows us to study evolutions in lithic typology, lithic technology, tool-uses and the exploitation of lithic raw materials and other types of natural resources from a multi-period perspective. Indeed, besides lithics, considerable amounts of carbonized hazelnut shells and faunal remains were recovered, the latter consisting not only of heavily burnt bone fragments but also numerous unburnt remains. This particular feature of the site is unprecedented within the Early to Late Mesolithic of northern Belgium and allows us for the first time to reconstruct the subsistence behaviour of the Mesolithic hunter-gatherers of the Scheldt basin. Furthermore, the detailed excavation methodology applied, allows for a high-resolution intra-site analysis including not only the spatially well-defined artefact loci but also the areas in between, characterized by the occurrence of small and a low-density artefact clusters. The most interesting preliminary results consist of the striking differences between the distinct occupations phases of the sites on several levels, from the general layout and spatial organisation, over site-function, raw material procurement to the exploitation of animal and plant resources. These differences are particularly outspoken when comparing the Early and Middle Mesolithic occupation of the site. The Early Mesolithic occupation appears homogeneous and is mainly characterised by the use of Scheldt flint, the systematic presence of carbonised hazelnut shells, the almost systematic presence of hearths in the clusters and the functional organisation of space, that doesn{'}t show contrasts between the individual clusters. Moreover, medium-sized mammals like wild boar and roe deer dominate these assemblages and they are to a lesser extent accompanied by fur-animals such as pine marten. By contrast, the layout and the general use of space of the Middle Mesolithic occupation seems to diverge completely from this picture. From this time onwards, Wommersom quartzite is imported and the use of the Scheldt flint is largely abandoned in favour of a grey-brown translucent and more fine-grained flint, probably indicating a change in the social territorial boundaries of the groups occupying the site of Kerkhove. Besides this, from a functional point of view, the clusters clearly contrast with one another and seem to form special activity areas, although it remains to be proven whether they are complementary special activity areas from one and the same larger campsite or if they are non-contemporaneous, individually functioning clusters. Furthermore, hearth features and carbonised hazelnut shells are completely absent from these artefact loci. Finally, in addition to the exploitation of wild boar, roe deer, red deer and fur animals, from the Middle Mesolithic onwards, we have indications for the consumption of freshwater fish at the site, in the form of burnt fish remains associated with the aforementioned discrete armature clusters. Keywords: Early Mesolithic, Middle Mesolithic, RMS, Late Mesolithic, faunal remains, fish, microwear-analysis, spatial analysis.

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